Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 31.djvu/95

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Statue of General Robert E. Lee. 87

To like effect are the words of President Roosevelt, uttered on the 9th of last April, the anniversary of Lee's surrender, at the Charleston Exposition, where he said: "We are now a united people; the wounds left by the great Civil War, incomparably the greatest war of modern times, have healed, and its memories are now priceless heritages of honor, alike to the North and to the South. The devotion, the self-sacrifice, the steadfast resolution and lofty daring, the high devotion to the right as each man saw it, whether Northerner or Southerner, all these qualities of the men and women of the early sixties, now shine luminous and brilliant be- fore our eyes, while the mists of anger and hatred that once dimmed them have passed away forever. All of us, North and South, can glory alike in the valor of the men who wore the blue, and the men who wore the gray."

Mr. Roosevelt has also written such high praise of Lee, as a soldier, that none of his own followers can say more.

In his life of Thos. H. Benton, in the American Statesman Series, on page 34, are found these words:

' ' The world has never seen better soldiers than those who fol- lowed Lee; and their leader will undoubtedly rank as without any exception the very greatest of all the great captains that the English speaking peoples have brought forth, and this although the last and chief of his antagonists may himself claim to stand as the full equal of Marlborough and Wellington."

It is not my intention at this time to discuss the rights or the wrongs of the great fraternal conflict in which Lee won his immortal fame. Those questions belong now to history, and any discussion of them hereafter must be wholly from the academic and not the practical standpoint. It may not be amiss, however, to call atten- tion to the fact that the North already admits that the people of the South were honest in their contentions, and that they at least thought they were right. Furthermore, it is even conceded that the South was not without great support for its contentions from legal, moral and historical points of view. For instance, Professor Goldwin Smith, an Englishman, a distinguished historian, resident of, and sympathizing with the North during the Civil War, recently said: '* Few who have looked into the history can doubt that the Union originally was, and was generally taken by the parties to it to be, a compact; dissoluble, perhaps most of them- would have said, at pleasure, dissoluble certainly on breach of the articles of Union."